Inhalants

Know the facts about inhalants and connect with help and support to keep your child safe.

What are some slang terms?
Gluey, Huff, Rush, Whippets

What are they?
Inhalants are ordinary household products that are inhaled or sniffed by children and young teens to get high. There are hundreds of household products on the market today that can be misused as inhalants.

What do they look like?
Examples of products used to get high include model airplane glue, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, hair spray, gasoline, the propellant in aerosol whipped cream, spray paint, fabric protector, air conditioner fluid (Freon), cooking spray and correction fluid.

How are they used?
These products are sniffed, snorted, bagged (fumes inhaled from a plastic bag), or “huffed” (inhalant-soaked rag, sock, or roll of toilet paper in the mouth) to achieve a high. Inhalants are also sniffed directly from the container.

What do young people hear about them?
Within seconds of inhalation, a person experiences intoxication along with other effects similar to those produced by alcohol.

What are the risks?
Effects may include slurred speech, an inability to coordinate movements, dizziness, confusion, delirium, nausea and vomiting. In addition, inhalants may cause lightheadedness, hallucinations, and delusions.

Long-term use can lead to compulsive inhalant use and a mild withdrawal syndrome. Additional symptoms caused by long-term inhalant use include weight loss, muscle weakness, disorientation, inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability, and depression. After heavy use of inhalants, a person may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache. Because intoxication lasts only a few minutes, people using inhalants often seek to prolong their high by continuing to inhale repeatedly over the course of several hours. Doing this can cause loss of consciousness and death.

Prolonged inhalant use can cause damage to the parts of the brain that control thinking, moving, seeing, and hearing. Possible effects can range from mild impairment to severe dementia.

What are signs of use?

  • Slurred speech
  • Inability to coordinate movements
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Hallucinations and delusions
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

Next Steps

Risk Factors & Why Teens Use

Learn about whether your child may be at higher risk for drug and alcohol use, and understand why teens try drugs in the first place.

Spotting Drug Use

A few simple tips and guidelines can go a long way toward spotting issues with drug use earlier rather than later.

Get One-on-One Help

Trained counselors are available to listen, answer questions and help you create a plan to address your child's substance use.